Friday, August 15, 2008

Gipson brothers to start; depth chart released

Brothers Tashaun, left, and Marcell Gipson

By Richard Anderson

The brothers Gipson will be patrolling the defensive secondary after all.

To no one’s real surprise, sophomore Marcell Gipson was named the starter at boundary cornerback on Friday as the Wyoming coaching staff released the official depth chart for the season opener in two weeks against Ohio.

At field cornerback will be younger brother Tashaun Gipson, a true freshman.

“These two are very talented players,” said Wyoming head coach Joe Glenn in a prepared release. “They have a unique combination of speed, toughness, athleticism and competitiveness. Cornerback is one of the hardest positions to play on the defensive side of the ball. It takes a blend of all the attributes I mentioned to describe Marcell and Tashaun. These two guys are a rare breed -- they’ve got it."

The Cowboy defense returns seven starters from a unit that ranked 22nd in the nation in total defense a year ago, but both starting cornerbacks, 2007 seniors Julius Stinson and Michael Medina, are gone. The Gipson brothers of Dallas, Texas, will step into those starting spots.

“All that’s left is they have to have a short memory -- that is part of playing that position,” Glenn added. “They are young, and with young players you will have some mistakes, but for every mistake they make they will make a lot more big plays. And wait until people see how they hit.”

The Cowboys also turned to Buffalo native Chris Prosinski in the starting role. Wyoming’s defense has three experienced safeties returning in seniors Quincy Rogers and Michael Ray and the sophomore Prosinski. All three rotated last year and will continue to in 2008, but the safeties have been moved around some from last year. Rogers, who started at free safety a year ago, will start at strong safety. Ray, who was the starting strong safety last year, will back up Rogers. Prosinski, who was the backup at free safety in 2007, will now start at the free safety position. A fourth safety who has earned a spot in the rotation is senior Derrick McMahen, who will back up Prosinski.

“Quincy (Rogers) is an experienced veteran,” said Glenn. “He leads both by example and as a vocal leader. Chris Prosinski brings added speed to our defense, and has the ability to cover deep routes with a flair. There will be times when we play three safeties, and Michael Ray is a guy who has done a great job of fitting into the eight-man in the box defense that Coach (Mike) Breske uses sometimes. Michael Ray will continue to be an integral part of our defense.

“Derrick McMahen has also played himself into the mix, and we all feel Derrick will make a contribution this year. I will mention one other player at safety, who had a rough start to fall practice. Brian Kuhtz got sick with a virus shortly after fall camp started, but is a big guy (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) who can run and make plays and in time will contribute to our defense and special teams in a big way.”

Other than the quarterback position in which sophomore Dax Crum was named the starter (see related story on Wyoming and the defensive secondary, much of the depth chart remained the same from spring drills among the offensive linemen, defensive linemen, linebackers, running backs and fullbacks. At tight end, junior Chris Sundberg has battled back from a right knee injury that ended his 2007 season prematurely, to be listed as the co-starter at tight end with returning starter Jesson Salyards. Those two will also be utilized together in two tight-end sets for the Cowboys. Sundberg received a sixth-year of eligibility from the NCAA this summer, and so enters the 2008 season as a junior rather than a senior.

At wide receiver, junior Greg Bolling is back after missing spring drills due to academic ineligibility. He is the projected starter at one outside receiver spot. Junior Donate Morgan has earned the other starting spot at outside receiver, while redshirt freshman Brandon Stewart is listed No.1 at the slot receiver position.

On special teams, one kicking position has been decided. Junior Jake Scott is the clear choice at place-kicker. Scott hit four of five field goals in Wyoming’s first fall scrimmage on Wednesday, including two from 41-yards out.

“Jake (Scott) has really made a move this fall,” said Glenn. “I’m so happy with his confidence and his poise. He’s ready for a great season. You can feel a difference when he takes the field now -- it’s total confidence. He’s hitting the ball as good as I’ve ever seen him. His timing has been great. He’s getting the ball up quick, and his accuracy has been outstanding. I’m looking forward to watching Jake this season.”

The punting position is still locked in a three-way competition between sophomore Nick Landess, true freshman Austin McCoy and junior-college transfer Cody Bousema. The three are listed as co-starters with two weeks to go before the season opener.

“One of the better battles we’ve got going is at punter,” said Glenn. “All three kids have been hitting the ball well with excellent hang time. We’ll continue to track all their kicks in practice for the next few days before naming a starter there.

“We’re also very happy with our deep snappers -- not only four-year starter Danny Dutmer, but Chris Sundberg has been doing a nice job snapping for punts. Garrett King is our backup to Danny for field goals and PATs. Garrett has improved dramatically, and will get some reps. Ian (Hetrick) and Kyle (Jacobo) have done a great job holding. We’ve also worked David Leonard into that spot some.”

The Cowboys will continue two-a-day practices through next week. Wyoming will hold its second and final scrimmage of the fall on Wednesday in War Memorial Stadium, beginning at 5 p.m.

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